Laying tile can be a great way to give a room a new look. To make sure your newly tiled floor looks as professional as possible, it's important to fully research and understand the process before starting. It's also essential to understand the time frame of the operation, including adequate drying time. You certainly don't want to ruin all of your hard work by walking over newly tiled floors too early and causing damage. Knowing how long to wait after laying tile before you can walk on it is key to a successful tiling job.
Tile Installation Tips
Before tiling a floor, dry-fit the tiles to see if any need to be cut. You can use a tile spacer to help make sure the layout is even. You should also fully clean and dry the surface to help with adhesion. You should then mix thinset mortar and apply using a notched trowel. Next you should put the tile in place and then use a rubber mallet to push it down into the mortar and ensure it sticks.
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Grouting and Sealing Tiles
After you've placed the tiles on the floor, you should allow 24 hours for the mortar to set. It's then important to go in with tile grout to hold the tiles in place and create a more uniform surface. Use a flooring float to spread the grout and a sponge to remove the grout that sticks to the surface of the tiles.
You may wish to add a grout sealer around the edges of the tiles to waterproof them. This is particularly useful in rooms where wet floors are more common, like your bathroom. This product usually comes with its own applicator and can be drawn on by hand around the edges of each tile for a uniform finish.
How Long to Wait
Although tiles are known to be highly durable, a newly tiled floor can be delicate and prone to damage for its first couple of days. Patience is in order because it's easy to ruin hours of hard work with one false move.
After grouting, you should wait at least another 24 hours before walking on the tile, but a longer period of 48 to 72 hours is preferable. Putting weight on tiles before the mortar, grout and sealant have fully cured can cause the tiles to shift and even break apart. If you're tiling a high-traffic room, it can be a good idea to work in stages to avoid walking on a floor that's not quite ready. You can be strategic, leaving pathways to places you need to access and avoiding completely cutting off access a whole room.
If you need to enter a newly tiled room in an emergency, lay down a clean piece of plywood across the top of the floor. This helps to protect the tile from damage, although it's still not recommended that you walk on the tile if you can possibly avoid it.